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Državno tekmovanje iz znanja biologije za srednješolce (National Biology Competition for High School Pupils)



The Olympiad is promoted through school level competition and National Biology Olympiad (NBO) competitions (among students), through Biology Teachers’ Association (among teachers) and through media (among general public).

Slovenian NBO is organized by Association for Technical Culture of Slovenia (ZOTKS) with cooperation of Department of Biology (Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana).

The national level competition is divided in 2 categories:

a. 1st & 2nd year students with focus on a specific topic 

  • one round of competitions
  • competition usually takes place in January

b. 3rd &4th  year students covering whole biology curriculum

  • three rounds of competitions
  • competitions take place in January, March and the final selection in May
  • There are around 3000 students entering the competition, pre-selected by school level competitions. The first 7-9 winners of national level competition are then invited to IBO training and final selection of the for IBO competitors.

The first category (1st &2nd year students) of the NBO test consists of structured tasks of a specific topic (e.g. Wild game - wolf, bear and lynx; Life in the sea; Diversity in the soil; Secret forest; Nightlife - bats and moths). The aim of the competitions to raise awareness among younger students about the existence of Biology competition and increase the popularity of Biology as a science among the younger population. The exams take place at the students' respective Upper Secondary Schools.


The second category (3rd & 4th year students level) exams consist of 3 stages, covering the whole 4-year curriculum:

1. School Level competition

  • takes place at the students' respective Upper Secondary School
  • theoretical exam
  • multiple choice questions and true/false statements 
  • approx. 3000 competitors 

2. National Level Competition

  • takes place at a selected host Upper Secondary School or University 
  • theoretical exam
  • multiple choice questions, structured questions and true/false statements 
  • approx. 200 competitors

3. Final Selection Competition

  • takes place at the Department of Biology (Biotechnical faculty, University of Ljubljana)
  • theoretical and practical exam
  • multiple choice questions, structured questions, true/false statements and 3-4 practical tasks
  • 7-9 competitors


The exams are prepared by secondary school biology teachers and experts from the Department of Biology (Biotechnical faculty, University of Ljubljana) and revised by a team of experienced members of university staff, secondary teachers and members of National biology examination board.

Students, training for the School level competition and the National competition are mentored locally at their respective Upper secondary schools by their teachers and mentors. Training for the IBO is performed as an intensive two week training at the Department of Biology (Biotechnical faculty, University of Ljubljana) with the participation of team leaders, high school teachers and university staff of the department. Teaching is done with emphasis on IBO's current topics for practical tasks and by using older versions of IBO tasks for knowledge revision.

The materials used for the preparation of student for the NBO and subsequent IBO are:

  • Upper secondary school biology textbooks
  • Campbell
  • web pages and videos, including test examples on ZOTKS web page NALOGE
  • suggested literature covering IBO examination syllabus
Every year the online syllabus (provided on ZOTKS internet page) is expanded and students are provided with newest available IBO tasks for practice purposes.

At the national competition, students receive certificates according to the following scheme:

  • gold for more then 90% of total score at national level competition,
  • silver for 80 - 90% of total score at national level competition,
  • bronze for at least 66% of total score at school level competition.
Students receive no monetary rewards for their efforts, other than a possibility for gold medalists to join an educational Biology training camp during the summer. 

Notes about the NBO and IBO results are published in general newspapers and educational periodicals.

An official ceremony Zotkini talenti (ZOTKA's talents) takes place every year after finalization of the Olympiad to honor the competing students, their parents and students' mentors and present students' achievements to the broader public. 

Sponsoring institutions:

  • Public tender of Ministry of Education, 
  • ZOTKS, 
  • sponsors

The financial organizer of NBO and IBO participation is ZOTKS, which is responsible for obtaining grant/project money and recruitment of sponsors. Students get funded by ZOTKS during the two-week IBO preparation period, ZOTKS also covers all the costs involved in participation at IBO.

Ministry of Education financially supports NBO. The ministry also organises a reception for students competing at IBO with an aim of  promotion of natural sciences among students and general public.

Link for Slovenian NBO rules/guidelines is available at: Pravilnik tekmovanja of the ZOTKS web page

Katja Ota

Wasgenring 43 4055 BaselSwitzerland

Zveza za tehnično kulturo Slovenije, Zaloška 65, p.p. 2803 1000 Ljubljana Slovenia





by Katja Ota last modified Jul 05, 2018 10:37 PM